Pittsburgh homeowners who've uncovered cool or creepy things while renovating their houses could score a spot on the HGTV show If Walls Could Talk, which is headed to the city later this fall. The show tells the stories of houses, from historic to infamous to quirky. So Pittsburghers who've discovered trinkets, letters, or even incestual albino children should e-mail Jenna Friederich jfriederich (at) highnoonentertainment.com
This is the as-packed-as-possible crowd that turned out to see literary
theorist (turned Law School dude) Stanley Fish do his fantastic
rhetoric dance Thursday at Pitt. Fish is there, in the short sleeved
blue oxford, talking to the woman in white; if you gave him a visor he'd look like the guy who counts
the take in a noir film. (My class in film noir was adjourned early so
interested students, and our professor, could attend). From what I remember of my literary theory -- which, admittedly, isn't much -- Stanley Fish was the only lit theorist who made me laugh out loud.
He engaged the quiet, awed and/or confused crowd in an exercise in logic and rhetoric about argument itself that was beguiling. It begins:
1) Has my conviction that X is true been reached in the course of a particular education (mine) and career trajectory, complete with mentors, influences, substantive commitments,religious, ethnic and political attachments, etc? - YES 2) Is the history by which I arrived at my conviction its author? - NO.
And goes on for 7 more pages, which I will not retype, since I've already quoted without permission from Señor Fish* despite the warning on the handout not to do so. Anyway, during his talk, two things were clear: he's so deft with his rhetoric that to disagree with him, or even to take issue, makes one feel entirely irrational; and he could have wound up at the exact opposite of his actual conclusion and been equally convincing. Supremely gifted.
Also funny. He illustrated one of his terms, "giving accounts," by saying "During the old Hollywood studio system, Tom Cruise would have either been shut up or killed." Hee. He said Tom Cruise.
My favorite question was "In the game of argument, whose rules are you following? Artistotle's? Kant's?" because it proved that I am really in grad school. So what if I can't define what Kant and Aristotle's rules of argument might be -- someone in that room could, and took them very seriously. Not Stanley Fish so much, who's answer was something like "no rules." Which made me happy to be in grad school, too.
*Señor Fish serves topnotch fish tacos in Los Angeles.
Friday I showed up at 7:30pm to be one of about 100 punk club scene extras in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The short version: Peter Sarsgaard is indeed a babe, Sienna Miller is even tinier than you'd think, and geniune punks will smuggle beer into a film shoot. The snark, and spoilers, after the jump.
Pittsburgh Pirates fans, who've been hanging in through a pretty dismal season, got treated to post-game fireworks shows this week. And there was a live band! Problem is the band, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, is a collection of punk rockers who play cover songs (blues, country, even classic rock). The satiric crew includes punk rock legend Fat Mike (lead singer of NOFX and proprietor of Fat Wreck Chords) and lead singer Spike Slawson, who grew up in Pittsburgh. They began their set playing songs the baseball team liked, including "Stairway to Heaven."
"There's a fine line between irreverence and lampooning," said Mr.
Slawson, "and [the Gimmes] kind of ride that line. It's not supposed to
be a homage -- that's not what we do. 'Stairway to Heaven' is, like
sacred, though, and everyone started booing. I felt it in the pit of my
stomach. That's the most people that ever booed me in my life."
Although the band was booked to play 3 nights under the fireworks, they won't be back. I love their response to the debacle. Spike Slawson tells the Pittsbugh Post-Gazette: "We're a punk band. Getting booed by a sports crowd makes us viable."
In the midst of my first week of classes, on Wednesday 8/30, a few industrious Pittsburgh bloggers will be getting together for Blogfest 7 to, I'm guessing, blog, talk about blogging, and drink. I'm pretty sure drinking is included since the event will be in the pub room at the oh-so-literarily named Finnigan's Wake. Time? 5:30-9:30pm. See me there.
So I promptly read the book, because I plan to show up at the open call. We're supposed to dress early/mid 1980s. Which is a little funny, because while the book was written then, it isn't really set then, except perhaps for its cavalier, pre-AIDS sexual mores. So I've been thinking about 1980s style. And, well, Adam Ant.
While Adam Ant does make an appearance in the book (via lyrics), I admit I watched more than one of his old videos, entranced by the true original Jack Sparrow. Actually, I meant to be getting to some questions about the movie-i-zation of TMOP. Those questions -- including spoiler elements -- after the jump.
I never would have remembered the name. I do remember that in 1992, after months of fast food that got so bad I even longed for Dunkin' Donuts, the place was like heaven. A little dive, down a side street in a marginal part of town. But with tabouli and babaganoush and fatoush salad and a salad I'd never had before, with black eyed peas, all so fresh and delicious that I wished I could stay right here in Pittsburgh and eat there every day. That salad, I never found it again.
So simple, eh? With spinach and bulghar wheat, I think, and olive oil and I'm not sure what. Sleek is good. SO GOOD.
Kassab's has moved onto the main drag, and the place is quite nice. That part of town, the South Side, now has a strip of mall stores where, in '92, empty steel wharehouses stood. But Kassab's. What is in the shwarma? Is it nutmeg? Something flavorful and a little sweet. I am sure that Kassab's is an open secret in Pittsburgh, but for me it was a discovery. A rediscovery, even. It's really here! It's still here! With sleek!
Delicious, cheap Lebanese food. Kassab's. 1207 E. Carson St.
As good as you can eat outside of Lebanon, I'll bet. Not that running to Lebanon for a meal is much of an option right now, except for Tony Bourdain and his crew.
Pittsburgh has many bridges, and this is ... one of them. Today looked partly like this, partly like a deluge thunderstorm. I'd forgotten how quickly weather could change. And how completely. A few more newbie Pittsburgh pics here.
Still getting settled (and, when driving, still getting lost). Other than painting the living room today -- 2 coats, many trips up and down the ladder -- I got in a bit of reading. Finally, I'm reading Gilead, whose excerpts in the New Yorker I found sublime.
But as a book, not so much. 75 pages of sermons to the reader (masquerading as letters to a young son) and I feel lectured to, and trapped in a writer's musings on writing. If I have to read one more time about all those pages of the author's -- sorry, I mean protagonist's -- writing that's stashed in boxes in the attic....
Please, bring on the fire and brimstone grandpa and some bloody escaping slaves. If that doesn't happen soon, I might just be ready for Erin's aunt's family history.